How to Have a Great Break
by Sue Weems in Write to Publish
09:25 pm on December 21, 2018
This week I wrote this short post for my high school students who had their last day of class today before winter break. [more]
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Can you steal ideas from other stories? What if someone steals your ideas? In fact, are your ideas even good enough at all? If you’ve ever asked questions like these, I have good news for you.
Most of us try to avoid hard things. We have traffic apps to help us steer clear of wrecks and construction on the roadway. We espouse slogans like “work smarter, not harder.” We love hacks, apps, and tips to make most anything easier or more comfortable.
But what if the hard thing is the best way to become the people we want to be? What if we’re avoiding the very thing that holds the key to our growth?
Sometimes as writers, we let our characters settle for the easy life. What is the default state for your main character? Where is he most comfortable? You’ve got to get the character out of that state as quickly as possible.
What are you learning?
Sometimes it feels like I can’t learn things fast enough. I’ve been working to improve my ability to evoke emotion in my writing. It’s been harder than I think it should be, and I often lament that I don’t have enough time to learn all I need to learn to make my fiction work.
But as I wring my hands thinking I don’t have time, I’m missing a great opportunity right in front of me every day. Being present, paying attention, and thinking about the world I see are all excellent ways to learn. When I look at the world through a writer’s eye, I see writing lessons all around me.
It’s that time of year again. The newness and hope of a fresh start has worn off and if you’re like me, old habits beckon like a warm blanket. Whether you are still holding firm on your resolutions, didn’t make any, or have already abandoned your “new year, new you,” the challenge of resolutions provide a host of ideas for writing.
It’s a new year! New goals! New motivation!
But what happens when an ER visit derails me, a work project explodes and requires far more time than I planned, or I experience some other plan-busting interruption?
Too often, I have an all-or-nothing attitude toward change and progress. If I’ve eaten off the plan for one meal today, I’m far more likely to make unhealthy choices the rest of the day, week, and month. How can I short-circuit this negative thinking pattern and abandon all-or-nothing thinking to get more writing done this year?
Sometimes I have students who say they don’t like to write. I suggest that perhaps they haven’t found a subject or story worth writing yet. Then I ask them if they have any scars.
Inevitably, the stories pour out of them, and they point to their arms, their foreheads, and their legs revealing skateboarding mishaps, fights, and sometimes deeper trauma.
Scars often hold an entire world of story. We wanted something and the pursuit of it left a mark.
Giving a character a scar can be a cliché or it can be a fast-track to deeper character development. When you’re creating characters with scars, execution is key.
Pseudo-working looks like work, but it doesn’t produce much. If you’ve ever been trying to focus on writing an article while checking your phone for social media updates and fielding dinner requests, you’re pseudo-working. (No, I’m not doing that right now, why do you ask?)
Admitting the dangers of pseudo-working has helped me focus and get more writing done in less time. See if it will help you too!
I’m a firm believer in deadlines.
Some will argue that creativity has no end point and that they can’t be inspired if there’s a timeline. If that mindset results in powerful writing and stories that resonate with readers as regularly as you’d like, then go forth and continue with the process that is working for you!
If, however, you can’t seem to finish in the time and manner you desire, a little deadline practice might be just the thing you need to propel your writing forward.
Across the world this week, writers began spinning stories and obsessively checking their word counts, all in pursuit of that magic number: 50,000 words. Every year, I tell myself I don’t have time to do NaNoWriMo, and every year, I end up participating anyway.
But a couple years ago, I decided to break the rules and I had the best NaNoWriMo month ever. Maybe you need to break some rules yourself to redefine your writing this month.
Many writers I know are overwhelmed and struggle to focus on writing anything. Do I research? Get a draft down? Should I be blogging? Do I need to get a business license? What about social media? What’s for dinner? (Sorry, my kids added that one).
A few years ago, I learned a technique that helped me get a handle on my to do list, and freed me to prioritize my writing. Along with sneaking time to write, learning to write in batches has changed the way I work.